The perplexity about the election outcome

As I write, on Sunday afternoon, it is pretty clear that Malcolm Turnbull and his colleagues will be able to govern in their own right, at least as far as the House of Representatives is concerned. The current state of the likely Senate is unclear, but both the Government and the Opposition seem likely to lose seats, at the expense of Nick Xenophon, the Greens and One Nation. As I said in my last essay, the Prime Minister will need to develop some pleasant and effective negotiating skills, or find a few colleagues who already have them. All sorts of Senate cross-bench possibilities will be there to explore, and perhaps to exploit.

But because the count has been close, some seats will be decided by a few votes, and there remains the possibility of the result in one or more of them going to the Court of Disputed Returns, the press and the blogosphere have been full of ‘perplexity’ stories and articles. How could this have happened, they go on, and then offer this or that explanation. A favourite is the voting system. Some think that compulsory voting is the problem. If there hadn’t been compulsory voting, some argue, the less-than-interested would have found something else to do on Saturday, and our side (whatever it is), would have won in this seat, or in general.

I have argued before that compulsory voting is a kind of contract: we have the right to vote, and we have the responsibility to exercise it properly. If we don’t like any of the candidates, we can simply return a blank ballot paper, or, as a lady interviewed in 1967 in one of my surveys said, ‘If I don’t like the ones we have to vote for, I just draw a little man!’ There is much same kind of contract with respect to driving: we are issued with a licence, and are required to drive carefully and obey the road rules. We do not have any kind of ‘right’ to drive on public roads (though we do on our own property). I don’t think compulsory voting had anything to do with the outcomes, and see no evidence that it did. We have had it since the mid 1920s, and Queenslanders have had it for State elections since 1915.

Nor is preferential voting a cause of the outcome. We have that since 1919 in the Federal sphere, and its logic is straightforward. We arrange the candidates in an order we like, and are saying, as we write down the numbers in the boxes, ‘I want X to win, but if he can’t, then I want Y, and if he can’t get up either, than I’d rather have P than Q’. The misanthropic among us will start at the other hand. ‘There’s no way I’d ever want X, so he’s last, and then second-last is that idiot W, and then …’

It’s not a perfect electoral system at all. But there are no perfect systems. All electoral systems come with costs to accompany their benefits. First-past-the-post usually gives you a result, but can lead to a party’s winning a substantial share of the vote across a hundred or more constituencies without winning more than one or two seats, as has happened in the UK. With our Senate system you can see proportional representation (PR) at work. One Nation won no House of Representatives electorates, but its share of the vote may give it from three to six seats in the new Senate, because that is elected under proportional representation. PR is great at providing seats in proportion to votes gained, but it comes with the cost of multi-member seats, in which it is usually difficult for any MP to ‘serve his constituents diligently’ — there are just too many of them, and he shares the task with a number of other  MPs. Devoted PR adherents don’t care about that, but I do, since I think the notion of an MP being a ‘representative’ is important, and PR requires parties, or groups with similar aims, for it to work.

Something must be wrong, I have it seen it argued, because One Nation is back! Pauline Hanson has an almost unmatched ability to get under the skin of the bien pensant, and I saw that exhibited perfectly in the Sunday Canberra Times, where her face took up much of the front page, with the headline ‘Hanson Hits The Jackpot’. This was not a reference to how well her party polled, but to the fact that she (‘Hanson reaps $1.2 million windfall’) will do well out of the election result, garnering well more than a million dollars from the publicly funded AEC pot which rewards successful parties and candidates, at $2.62 for every first-preference vote gained.

As it happens, One Nation is a political party, and the Commonwealth Electoral Act 1918 says, at Section 299A(1), that payments of election funding entitlements must be made either electronically into a bank account nominated by the party for the purpose; or by cheque payable to the registered political party, and that there have to be proper bank accounts. So the money does not go to likely Senator-elect Hanson, but to the party she leads. And it is not a windfall. Election funding entitlements are a well-known and established part of our electoral system, and have been there since 1984. All parties and candidates know about them, and factor them in to their budgets.

For those interested, the major party groups will each pocket more than $20 million, the Greens more than $5 million. Nick Xenophon will pick up $400,000 or so. What will the parties do with the money? Why, pay their bills and pay off some debt, if anything is left over. Why then did Pauline Hanson generate the front page and two misleading headlines — and indeed about half of the whole story? My guess is that she is thought to be widely disliked, and the newspaper reasoned it could lead with such a story in a city where the dislike of Ms Hanson is perhaps as great as anywhere.

But surely that is insufficient justification, and does not warrant the loaded interior headline ‘Hanson reaps $1.2 million windfall’. The real question to ask is Why did One Nation do so well? There is no answer at all in the Canberra Times story. Some straightforward arithmetic will tell you that if the newspaper got the total figure right, then One Nation will have won about 450,000 votes across the two voting domains. That is considerable voting support, and those who don’t like One Nation need to ask why it is that so many people thought otherwise, indeed, put One Nation first.

Climate Botherers are appalled that there is now a political party in the Senate that actually has a whole policy on ‘climate change’, under the general heading of ‘Affordable Energy’. It’s well worth reading, and I hope that some, both in the Coalition and in the Labor Party, reflect on the fact that there is a new player in town. Bowing to the Greens will cut no ice with Ms Hanson.

End-note, to save having to respond to trivial comments: No, I don’t agree with all of the Affordable Energy policy, but then I’m unlikely to agree with all of anyone’s policy on anything.

 

Join the discussion 94 Comments

  • Patrick says:

    One of the Hanson crew is Malcolm Roberts, the founder of the Galileo Movement. He is (among other things) a tertiary qualified mining engineer & very probably he advised Ms Hanson on the subject of affordable energy & climate change. For the first time ever we will have a federal parliamentarian who actually has some in depth knowledge about climate. Also, because he is independent of the major parties and the Greens, he should be in a position to highlight the absurdity of their policies.

  • Colin Davidson says:

    The Senate results are interesting. A rough estimate is rightish-wing parties 50%, leftish-wing parties (Lyebah, Greens, Lambie, Xenophon, sex party etc) 48%, my uncertainty 2%. I think the outcome quite possibly is a slight majority of rightish-wing senators.
    In my view that would be ideal – a coalition majority in the lower house, and a rightish balance of power in the Senate. It’s the outcome I wanted and voted for – me and about two million others. And that explains why the Liberal vote went down but the National vote went up.

    The Left hates people who disagree with them. The Left track record (Mao, Pol Pot, Stalin, Hitler) when in government is appalling. Lyebah under Gillard moved to close down The Australian which was exposing the truth about her dubious activities as a 30-year-old, and those of her shambolic government. Thin edge of the wedge. The Left hates debate and dissent, and is murderous and violent in its efforts to close opponents down. They don’t get Free Speech, and are trying to limit it at every opportunity.

    • David says:

      Colin,

      Hitler is usually characterized as “right-wing” you know along with King Louis XIV and Genghis Khan etc. But ultimately these terms reflect ones personal political perspective. So if you choose to characterize Hitler left wing, that is up to you.

    • whyisitso says:

      Interesting you you place Hitler among the leftists. I’ve often thought that he had was more of the far left than the far right because he was the quintessential statist. No freedom of the individual there. I’ve been called a fascist because of my views supporting small government, freedom of speech, free markets and individual freedom.

      • Colin Davidson says:

        Hitler founded the National Socialists. He was as Left as they come: Big Government favouring Big Business. Corrupt. Anti-democracy. Anti Free speech. Racist.
        These are all left wing characteristics.
        The rest of us -the anti-totalitarians (referred to as the Hard Right by the Totalitarians) believe that government is a threat to our health and wealth, that it needs to be kept small and hungry, that Big Business, Big Government and Big Unions is a formula for corruption and an existential threat to liberty. I think it is now clear that we need to add Big Universities to the list.

        • Alan Gould says:

          No1 This won’t do. It is a flagrant case of grabbing characteristics you don’t like and placing the word Left on them. With the same facility I could place the word ‘Right’ on those characteristics, cite examples, then deconstruct my own case by showing champions against racism, in favour of free speech, in favour of discreet government, anti-totalitatian etcetera from those smeared as Left and maybe even from those smeared as Right. The Greek or Burmese Military Juntas, Franco? Remember “Bomb them back to The Stone Age’ from all those Left Wing US Governments prosecuting the Vietnam War? It won’t do, Col. Your handy-kit for defining Leftism obscures rather than clarifies, polarises rather than promotes understanding.

          • Ross Carnsew says:

            Thank you Alan. This “Hitler was a lefty” thing has been creeping into blogs for a little while now.
            I would’ve thought communist Australians traveling to Spain to ‘Fight’ Hitlers and Francos right wing facists
            was the tip.
            It seems silly that anyone has to bother, but your letter takes it apart superbly.

    • Alan Gould says:

      Col,
      I think you use a somewhat crude brush on The Left, and it is illustrative of how crude those terms Left and Right are, deriving as they do from two sides of a tennis court in Revolutionary France 1789. I don’t hear Hitler included in The Left all that often, am mindful that it was the Communist Vietnamese Army that intervened against Pol Pot, and it was dear ol’ democratic USA that connived to topple (and murder) the elected Allende in Chile. There are many bloody hands, Stalin’s and Mao’s being two of the bloodiest, but Left and Right does little to clarify the nature of their enormities. I find it is usually more a matter of temperament than ideology as to where one finds tolerance of the Unwelcome View, and would like to see the Left/Right palaver finally ditched in favour of political description of more precision.

    • Peter Kemmis says:

      Colin,
      I agree that those on the Left tend to be impatient of disagreement, but I suspect that the same would be true of the far-Right. Why the impatience, and often the anger? I guess people just become so convinced of their position, and with our prevailing morality, superficially the Left has it all over the Right. The Left is all for the “common good”, is vocally critical of inequality (social and economic, but never considers effort, aspiration or ability), is very defensive of almost all disadvantage and therefore supportive of almost every minority (sometimes to the point of absurdity) . . . all of these apparently noble aims and causes appear consistent with our “good moral values”.

      At present for the most part, the Right does not enjoy that privilege. Rather, it is damned for its selfishness and hard-heartedness, regardless of how its views may be far more realistic, with reasoning that is more than skin-deep. Without that reassurance of the moral soundness of its causes and the emotional conviction that those causes are just, the Right does not convey that sense of moral superiority, even though when examined more deeply, many of its arguments may be far more moral. I am not arguing that the Right is always right – far from it. For example, when we consider the racial superiority meme expressed in the eugenics movement of the late 19th to mid-20th century period, this was strongly supported by the Right (and horrifically so by the Nazi regime during WW2). And then we had the crusade against the use of DDT, one result being that malaria has continued, wiping out in developing countries some hundreds of millions of people with all of the suffering involved. Ironically, this appeared to be a crusade driven by the environmentalism of the Left, with results that are consistent with some of the aims of that Right-driven eugenics movement, to reduce the populations of those supposedly “inferior” races. A current example of shallow Left thinking, concerns fossil fuels and alternative energy, where proponents of leaving those fuels in the ground “for the sake of future generations that will otherwise roast in an unliveable world”, are cheerily ignoring the simple fact that cheap energy provides the best means for lifting communities out of poverty, with all of its associated misery, sickness, and premature mortality.

      So perhaps its is not so much a Left or Right distinction, but rather that at different periods in history, one side or the other gains the high moral ground (and always slippery ground at that). At present, and this is where I must agree with you, the Left is occupying that ground, not just here in Australia, but globally. When one is convinced of the morality of one’s cause, one becomes impatient of disagreement, and the end purpose is perceived as sufficient justification for whatever means is required to achieve that end. The simplest means is to shut down dissent.

      • Ross Carnsew says:

        Peter. I see plenty of dissent here and elsewhere from the right.
        You sound like you’ve jumped on board the victim train.
        In Hitlers Germany there was no dissent from the ‘left’. It was gassed.

        • David says:

          There you go spoiling Peter’s argument with a fact.

          • margaret says:

            “At present for the most part, the Right does not enjoy that privilege. Rather, it is damned for its selfishness and hard-heartedness, regardless of how its views may be far more realistic, with reasoning that is more than skin-deep. Without that reassurance of the moral soundness of its causes and the emotional conviction that those causes are just, the Right does not convey that sense of moral superiority, even though when examined more deeply, many of its arguments may be far more moral. I am not arguing that the Right is always right – far from it. ”
            Caught in a bind. That’s the Left/Right dichotomy that I see. I’d really like to know the moral strengths of the “right” so that I can compare with the current winning “left”. Dot points would help.

          • Don Aitkin says:

            Margaret,

            There’s no quick way of giving you “the moral strengths of the ‘right'”. It would require an essay, or perhaps more than one. In the same way, one needs to analyse the basis of the moral strength of the Left, and that can’t be done in paragraph either. I’ll put it on the list of possible future essays.

          • margaret says:

            That would be interesting thank you.

        • spangled drongo says:

          The Link between Extreme Environmentalism and Hard-Core Racism.

          A story about the man who wrote the book that Adolph Hitler described as “MY Bible”:

          https://fee.org/articles/the-link-between-extreme-environmentalism-and-hard-core-racism/

  • JimboR says:

    “If we don’t like any of the candidates, we can simply return a blank ballot paper”

    How is that any better than “If we don’t like any of the candidates, we can simply not turn up”?

    “we are issued with a licence, and are required to drive carefully…”

    But happily, staying at home is still an option in that case.

    “First-past-the-post … can lead to a party’s winning a substantial share of the vote across a hundred or more constituencies without winning more than one or two seats”

    What has that outcome got to do with first-past-the-post voting? We get that exact same outcome in our lower house, where we have preferential voting.

    • spangled drongo says:

      Jimbo, I agree.

      Maybe we could just draw little men on our postal votes.

    • Don Aitkin says:

      Jimbo, your three points:

      (1) It’s not necessarily any better, if you don’t like the idea of the social contract about creating the state and having a responsibility to its shaping.

      (2) Catching public transport is also an option.

      (3) It doesn’t have anything to do with the outcome, nor did I say it had. I was simply giving examples of the costs and benefits of different voting systems.

      • JimboR says:

        hmmm…. so you write “A can lead to outcome B” and you’ve now clarified that to “A doesn’t have anything to do with outcome B”. It’s more confusing than climate change can lead to more bush fires. No doubt I’ll now get a lecture on the need to re-read what you’ve written more carefully, although I’ve never found that helpful in the past. A very good tech writer once told me that no matter how well you think you’ve written something, if it’s not clear to the reader you haven’t succeeded. She claims it’s quite rare that you can blame the reader for the misunderstanding. She obviously hasn’t spent much time in this forum.

        • Don Aitkin says:

          We were at cross purposes. I thought your reference to ‘outcome’ was to the Federal election result, hence my response.

          If I have that right, then the difference between FPTP and the alternative vote (preferential voting) is that in the latter case each voter had the ability to effect the result by allocating second and later preferences. Thus a Green might not be able to get a Green MP elected, but could help to ensure that a Labor rather than a Liberal MP won the seat. You may not think that important (the general case), but I do, and so, I think, do most voters. I didn’t ask questions relating to that in my surveys, but I’m pretty sure that Roy Morgan did, with that tendency in the answers.

          And your tech writer is absolutely right. If people don’t understand what you’ve written you haven’t written carefully enough.

          • JimboR says:

            “And your tech writer is absolutely right. ”

            Perhaps something to contemplate next time you’re tempted to write “Yep. Three with reading difficulties.”

          • Don Aitkin says:

            While the tech writer is right, that does not prevent people from having reading difficulties…

          • JimboR says:

            Of course, but when three readers all report in with the exact same mis-interpretation of what someone has written, I think most authors (and certainly the tech writer) would look to improve what they’d written rather than abuse the readers.

          • Don Aitkin says:

            I think I explained the problem at the the time, but if you’d like to direct me to the essay, and the relevant comments, I’ll have another look.

          • JimboR says:

            The one I had in mind was an exchange about a topic as benign as your preferences for an alternative Australian flag in the comments of this essay: http://donaitkin.com/on-the-freeness-of-speech/ where you wrote:

            “Assuming the new flag were attractive enough, I might vote for it if it had the union jack on it, as does the flag of Hawai’i. I wouldn’t if it didn’t.”

            One of your readers sought a very specific confirmation that this meant a Union Jack was an absolute minimum requirement for your support of any proposed new flag. Two others confirmed that they inferred it was. I missed it all at the time, otherwise I would have added my name to the count, giving you four readers with a disability.

            If David does have a reading disability, it’s demonstrated by the fact that he had to ask at all, but I suspect his question was more an indication of his surprise. I’m yet to identify the reading disability indicated by the other two contributors (not surprising I guess since I agree with their conclusion). A simple Yes or No would have answered David’s question, instead he got an irrelevant (and I suspect redundant) lesson on how to parse a sentence with a bit of abuse thrown in. We still don’t know the answer to David’s question (well, three of us think we do but that’s only because we have a reading disability).

            For the record, I can’t think of a question I’m less interested in having answered, so don’t feel obliged to answer it now. I merely offer this as an example of what I consider a breach of the tech writer’s position on writers’ responsibilities to their readers. Next time I see her I’ll run the exchange past her for her opinion. The topic is simple enough and she doesn’t know any of the players, so I feel she’ll be able to give an unbiased opinion on whether it’s a reasonable way for a writer to treat his readership.

            The whole exchange reminds me of this bizarre interview: http://www.smh.com.au/federal-politics/federal-election-2016/federal-election-2016-scott-morrison-refuses-to-say-how-he-will-vote-if-plebiscite-is-passed-20160628-gpu246.html

            As I say, it’s a style more often seen from politicians than from authors and educators. The former are trying to leave themselves wriggle room, the latter are trying to clearly communicate their position.

        • JimboR says:

          OK, thanks for clearing that part up, and for the record I’m a big fan of preferential voting.

          Alas, I’m still none the wiser as to why you think….

          “First-past-the-post … can lead to a party’s winning a substantial share of the vote across a hundred or more constituencies without winning more than one or two seats”

          I don’t think _that_ outcome has anything to do with FPTP, as demonstrated by the fact that that same outcome happens in all of our lower house elections, and we don’t have FPTP, we have preferential.

          • Don Aitkin says:

            You’re right. Your comment here, and my statement above are both correct.

          • JimboR says:

            Don I find much of your writing style seems to be designed to leave you with perceived wriggle room to permit yourself to crab-walk away from some ludicrous positions. It’s a trait more common in politicians than authors and educators.

          • Don Aitkin says:

            It is not designed that way, and your perception is probably the result of your own starting point.

      • JimboR says:

        re (1). If it’s no better, and we accept that people can always hand in a blank paper (your essay’s third paragraph suggests you do) then why insist they turn up to do so? It seems more efficient to let them stay home.

  • Peter B says:

    I would recommend to everyone that they read Chris Mitchell in today’s Oz [Media section], which explains the Hanson ‘itch’ very well, but also points out the appalling standards of the press gallery and how they allow the Labor Party [and Greens], to get away with lying and not having to justify it. As the ex Editor-in-Chief of the Oz, he is surely well-placed to offer up good commentary on this subject, although I haven’t forgiven him for backing Rudd in 2007. As to voluntary voting, it no doubt will cause opinion to be divided, but if the NZ situation is looked at closely, they provide a good example of what can be achieved, in particular by not having a senate to hamper decent reform. Maybe that can also be thrown into the mix for discussion.

  • spangled drongo says:

    Don, doncha just love the irony. Our “Climate Botherers” turfed out Lomborg and lost largesse but now are stuck with Pauline at a price.

  • David says:

    Don,

    I don’t claim to speak for all Climate Botherers, but, as far as I am concerned the fact that Pauline Hanson is now going to be the most senior spokesperson for climate skepticism in Australia is just fine by me. It just goes to show how threadbare the skeptic side of the argument is. Scraping the barrel, surely.

    And as for Malcolm Roberts, Hanson’s David Oldfield replacement, he embraces all these fanciful conspiracy theories (are there any other kind?) about World banking and the trading of carbon credits. It is hard to take him seriously. Even Andrew Bolt sought to publicly distance himself from Roberts because he thought his right-wing climate skeptic claims were delusional. I am sure that must be a record of sorts.

    • margaret says:

      I just can’t get how one can be a skeptic if one is not skeptical about both sides of the argument. Isn’t scepticism non partisan?

      • margaret says:

        And, in a democracy isn’t it undemocratic for voting to be compulsory?

        • Brian Austen says:

          Voting is actually not compulsory. I guess it’s thinking about it which is. One can lodge a blank paper. It’s greatest benefit is that it puts pressure on the mechanics to be correctly maintained. If you drive a car you are not supposed to have bald tyres.

          • margaret says:

            Yes, someone dear to me has tyres that need replacing. They’re putting off that crucial purchase because they’re financially stretched. I’d like to help them out but I also find cost of living pressures extraordinary.
            Our PM had a conversation on radio with a high profile radio ‘announcer’ during the election campaign who asked him about housing affordability – it became personal- MT said the radio chap should have been helping his kids attain home ownership (as he himself did), because of the income radio chap was on.
            Certainly makes you think about which way to vote … but even though I live in a safe LNP electorate where my vote would only make a small protest and assist a small swing against the prevailing born to be ruler, I would never lodge a blank paper. That’s either throwing in the towel or evidence of I’m alright, who cares.

          • Peter WARWICK says:

            I am of one and a half minds about compulsory voting. Most prolly, we have all been, at some time, Chairman/ Secretary/ Treasurer/ Committee of the Snake Gully Tennis Club/ Bandiwollop Swimming Club/ Boulia School Canteen etc etc.

            The General Meeting passes motions to replace the cisterns in all the toilets at a nominated cost.

            But guess who questions and complains about the motions (pardon the pun) after the cisterns have been installed – yes, you guessed it ! – someone who did not attend the meeting. When the non- attendance is brought to the attention of the complainer, a fairly common reply is “I have my rights !! This is a typical abuse of power by the crooked Committee !! I will be writing to the Minister !! We will get this sorted out !!”.

            Sorry buddy, but you had the right to attend the meeting and vote, which you did not.

            So to my mind anyone who does not mark (correctly) a voting paper (for any reason), basically forfeits the right to complain about the motions.

            This election was won by the party/ ies that had the most correctly marked voting papers in their favour. I fail to see why there is so much micro- analysis by the tabloids. “Turnbull lost in the wilderness”, “Australia headed for political Armageddon”, “Shorten up himself like a Bondi tram – pull the stop cord Bill !!”, “Australia rooned, where to now ??”.

            The election was won by the winners and lost by the losers – so very simple. So can the winners get on with the job they have been elected to do, and pass some motions, and the losers offer constructive criticism and some bi-partisanship, to which they are entitled.

            And those who did not vote for any reason (excepting some defence members who could not physically vote), please remain stum.

      • spangled drongo says:

        “Isn’t scepticism non partisan?”

        Margaret, right again!

        Do you know anyone who doesn’t believe in climate change?

        But when it comes to CC caused by you and me and the experts can’t tell us, even approximately, how much of that 1c of warming since the end of the LIA [which was also the beginning of the Industrial Revolution and that LIA was also the coldest period of civilisation] is due to you and me then I, who am sceptical of pretty well everything, hae me doots about those “experts”.

        Here is an indication of the level of the consensual “expert climate science” and its peer review:

        http://joannenova.com.au/2016/07/gergis-australian-hockeystick-is-back-how-one-typo-took-four-years-to-fix/#comments

        • spangled drongo says:

          I meant to add that it would be wonderful to have a genuine CC sceptic like Malcolm Roberts, [“Hanson’s David Oldfield replacement”, {Green Davey, how unctuous can you get}] in parliament to very slightly balance the bed-wetters of both sides.

          • Michael says:

            Surely climate change has never been the debate. No-one in their right mind would contest that the climate changes. I thought the debate concerned global warming caused by human emissions of CO2. There are huge numbers who are extremely sceptical and are likely to stay that way until the warmists are shown to be misguided or delusional.

        • Michael says:

          Surely scepticism only relates to those things that are not proven, as such all scientific thought is sceptical until proven. We are sceptical regarding the climate change or warming “debate” being caused by human emissions of CO2 as there is no scientific based proof of that conjecture. It is up to the “warmists” to prove their case with measurable data which, to date, they have not done. Sceptics have nothing to prove.

        • Brian Austen says:

          I often wonder to myself what America might be like now, if they too had compulsory voting. Ferguson for example. How many vote? If they all did would it make any difference. I can’t imagine that it wouldn’t. But nobody ever asks this question.

    • Don Aitkin says:

      Your first three sentences perfectly exemplify the use of ad hominem. What does it matter who said things. Isn’t the important question whether or not the things said have some substance to them. Would you like to present a considered response to the set of policies set out there, rather than condemn them by reference to Pauline Hanson?

      • David says:

        “… use of ad hominem. What does it matter who said things?”

        It is an interesting comment.

        1. I did mention One Nation Senator elect believes that the World-banking system is involved in an elaborate conspiracy to introduce trading in carbon credits. I see no evidence of this and disagree with this claim. This argument is not ad hominem.

        2. Use of the pejorative expression “climate bothers” is ad hominem, surely!

        3. I think ad hominem argument is quite reasonable in political discussion. After all, when we vote, we elect people to parliament not a list of policies, as we do at a referendum. Therefore, discussion of a candidate’s previous contributions to civil society, or lack thereof, is reasonable. As I said, I personally am quite happy for Pauline Hanson and One Nation to be the spokesperson for climate denialism. Based on her past performances I think she will do a poor job.

        • Don Aitkin says:

          David,

          Your numbers.

          1. I referred to the Affordable Energy policy of One Nation. It has 14 elements. While I don’t agree with all of them, and think they could have been better expressed, they represent nonetheless the first sceptical policy set about ‘climate change’ in our history. Perhaps you could have a go at setting out your response to them all, and why you agree/disagree.

          2. ‘ad hominem’ is a form of argument exemplified by saying (not your words) ‘Pauline Hanson is a racist so you should take no notice of her views on global warming’. Referring to those who worry about climate change as ‘climate botherers’ is indeed mildly pejorative, but is not an ad hominem argument. Indeed, it is not an argument at all.

          3. I have no issue with what you say here, provided that you don’t slip into ad hominem arguments.

  • michael says:

    I agree the left/right description is meaningless, perhaps we can whittle i down to the very basic primary tenet that defines us and that is the untrammelled right to free speech with all its sometimes uncomfortable outcomes. I would then classify all political movements against the absolute standard.

  • gnome says:

    Aside from the problem that representatives in a multi-member electorate don’t particularly represent anyone, is the problem that representation in those electorates is the gift of the party rather than the electors.

    There is a case to be made, that truly rebarbative characters may be gifted legislators, but when I look at the current crop I just don’t see it. There wouldn’t be an electorate anywhere safe enough for, say Eric Abetz or Doug Cameron to be elected (Penny Wong, Corey Bernardi, Lee Rhiannon, Stephen Conroy, Matthias Cormann, Sarah -Young…) but we are forced to accept them if we want to prefer one party over another, and no amount of argument could convince me that these, or any number of their fellow incumbents are indispensable to the operation of our democracy.

    Multi member electorates are too big for real democracy.

    • JMO says:

      Here in the ACT we have multi member electorates and the system seems to work well. We have at least 5 members in each electorate who may be either Liberal or Labor (or a minor party for that matter).

      If I have an issue wish to express I can write to a member of my electorate who has included the particular issue when they last campaigned . In this case I feel more confident that they may further represent my view in the ACT Legislative Assembly rather than a single member who was against or ambivalent on that particular issue.

  • Todd Myers says:

    The Liberal Democrats have been in the Senate for the last three years (and are looking like a decent shot of having two Senators in the new parliament to be formed). They have a well-established energy policy that I think you would also find satisfactory (and a lot more market-oriented): http://ldp.org.au/policy/energy/

  • dlb says:

    “Pauline Hanson has an almost unmatched ability to get under the skin of the bien pensant”

    Now I know what schadenfreude feels like.

    • margaret says:

      Now I know what superior attitude is. Use a French phrase for self-righteous and make people feel uneducated.

      • chrisl says:

        And a German word! Google is your friend Margaret.

      • Don Aitkin says:

        Margaret,’bien pensant’ is best translated as ‘right-thinking’, rather than ‘self-righteous’. Wiktionary nails it for me: ‘Someone who accepts and/or espouses a fashionable idea after it has been established and maintains it without a great amount of critical thought’.

        I'[m sorry you see my use of the word as denoting a superior attitude. My writing style is based on the notion that the more accessible I am the better for my readership. But ‘bien pensant’ has been about for a long time. I didn’t invent it. Yes, I could have used ‘right-thinking’, but it’s more than that.

        • margaret says:

          It’s more than that because … In French it is a pejorative. But I appreciate any opportunity to increase my vocabulary.

        • margaret says:

          I have taken on bien pensant as an expression that I’ll use in conversations where Pauline Hanson’s name comes up. There are sure to be many and it should add some extra fizz. Here’s something from The Monthly:
          “Pauline Hanson is no joke because she represents very real tendencies in Australian culture. Not just in Queensland culture, or in working-class culture. We are a very racist country, and we have been from the beginning of settlement. The racism is what permitted the settlement. We didn’t steal Australia from Aboriginal people because we thought they were inferior; we decided they were inferior in order to justify our theft.”

          • michael says:

            I am rally over the pejorative “racism which is bandies about like confetti at a wedding. No evidence is supplied as it means very different things to all who use it. Are there extreme viewpoints – of course are they valid – of course. This desire by some to close down debate by simplistic labeling reflects very poorly on those who use it (refer ad hominem attacks) provide evidence that a whole race of people are “racist” or stop using it to justify your position.

          • margaret says:

            Australians are no more racist than peoples of other countries. All countries are very racist.

          • dlb says:

            Margaret, are you disagreeing with The Monthly article when you say all countries are racist?

            I found that segment quite objectionable. The author talks about “we decided” and “our theft” as if we as Australians have done something just recently, when it was largely the British and other settlers 100 to 200 years ago.

          • margaret says:

            dlb the article by Michael Lucy continues:
            “forgive the personal aside – which I include because in discussions of racism it always seems to be someone else who is racist – I don’t excise myself from Australian culture. I’m racist. That is a hard thing to type. But how could I not be racist? I grew up in a society that has been designed by white people for white people, one that implicitly values white people above all others. You’re probably racist, too.
            I should make clear that I absolutely think racism is bad, and I’m not a raging xenophobe. But I’d be foolish to say I have no unconscious biases or unexamined prejudices about race, and I’d be lying if I said I have never enjoyed unearned privilege, without complaint, as a result of being white. I don’t spend a lot of time engaged in rigorous self-criticism about my racism – and yes, the freedom to ignore race is a privilege in itself – but it’s something I keep in mind. We won’t fix anything if we pretend the problems are elsewhere.”

            I do agree with that quote, not sure about his last sentence in the previous quote – seems a bit tricky – but … living in SW Victoria, a lot of white blindfolds are still worn.

          • Don Aitkin says:

            Margaret,

            The Einstein essay is an excellent one, and typical of him. The ‘racist’ tag always needs a qualifier — how important is all that to you? I doubt that Australia has many out-and-out racists — people for whom the issue is at the top of their consciousness. My guess is that most people feel embarrassed or unhappy about the race issue — willing to help, but not knowing quite how that might occur. My recent few weeks in Queensland gave me several insights into the issue, and I will return to the matter later. I did start writing about it some time ago. If interested, you could go to

            http://donaitkin.com/how-can-we-discuss-the-indigenous-issue-rationally/

          • margaret says:

            Obviously I don’t have the answer but was interested to read that. Now Patrick Dodson is in the Senate and Linda Burney in the House of Representatives things might get better … I’m not sure about Noel Pearson despite his eulogy for Gough Whitlam.
            We had Neville Bonner all those years ago and Douglas Nicholls as governor of SA. It seems there are outstanding examples of people who are indigenous Australians but they hardly make a ripple because there’s an inability for them to make their voice heard and to gain enough support from ALL Australians in the type of society we’ve become. Of course they have as many differences in this vast country as those of us who cherish our state monikers. E.g. Queenslander, Canberran, Victorian, Territorian, Tasmanian etc. etc.

      • margaret says:

        I was being lazy really about bien pensant because I did learn French at school. I knew bien and I could have worked out pensant from English eg pensive. Then again, if I hadn’t looked it up I wouldn’t have realised it had an ambiguous meaning.

  • PeterE says:

    Thanks. Left and right are rather too amorphous to be meaningful. To describe Pauline Hanson as far-right is fanciful. She is simply old-style ALP – white Australia, protectionist, a trifle xenophobic, Australian flag on the logo and so on. She only seems a little extreme because of decades of progressive propaganda from the kindergarten to the university and everywhere else.
    Hitler was a self-described socialist; he led a workers’ party, he tortured and murdered millions just like Joe and Mao; he fits with the Left against the democracies; it’s only because he is so like them that they have to scream ‘fascist’ loudly to pretend he is ‘Far Right.’
    The election outcome is very satisfying. The ALP has not got its hands on the power (and some of its ultra-leftist policies were enough to make one shudder). On the other hand, Mr. Popularity wasn’t so popular after all and now we can go on to the next chapter with ample opportunity to keep him on the hard right. (Don’t take this too seriously).

  • margaret says:

    Hitler. In one week it will be 100 years since the Battle of Fromelles. My maternal grandfather was a stretcher bearer during this battle (my paternal grandfather was a boy sailor in the Battle of Jutland).
    Apropos of what? The Hitler connection.
    “Seventy kilometres north of the battle of the Somme, which had begun almost three weeks before, the British Expeditionary Force decided to launch another small attack at Fromelles. The aim was to discourage the Germans from withdrawing troops from this area and sending them south to the Somme. Two inexperienced infantry divisions, the Australian 5th and the British 61st, were given the task of capturing the first and second lines of German trenches on a 4500 metre front. They were up against 6th Bavarian Reserve Division which held a strong position with barbed wire and concrete bunkers. One of the men serving in the 6th Bavarian was an Austrian corporal named Adolf Hitler.”
    Honestly sick of politicians sending us to wars that have tragic consequences on the participants and future generations.

    • margaret says:

      Like John Howard.

      • spangled drongo says:

        Get real Marg! 2 Australian soldiers died in the Iraq war. Compare that with Fromelles with over 5500 casualties in one night. I don’t think Iraq was a smart move but it was successful until Obama pulled the troops out and led to the problems we now have.

        You wouldn’t be indulging in a little schadenfreude yourself ??

    • margaret says:

      Of course I am projecting my own experiences… I find it interesting that depending on the era a person is born into, whole families may either have no involvement in the wars of the C20th, or complete involvement in all or most of them.

  • chrisl says:

    Don, Would yo believe things have moved on since 1967, they are not drawing little men on the ballot paper, they are drawing ….

    • margaret says:

      ??? …
      Please explain

      • margaret says:

        Please explain – get it?? Hahahaha

        • chrisl says:

          I could explain but it may disturb your extreme pc sensibilities

          • margaret says:

            I have none – it’s my kids who seem to have developed them. I am however very aware of the ridiculous assessment of women according to the old 36-24-36 (or whatever it was we were insultingly subjected to in terms of whatever it took to make (many) men interested in us).
            And I say that as an old lady : )

  • Look at me ! says:

    I am a fairly consistent Liberal voter, but I decided NOT to vote for Jonathon PAVETTO (KENNEDY) because he decided to declare himself as GAY in his web site. What was he hoping for in that declaration ?

    I have known 3 politicians in my time – one was left handed, one had a club foot, and one had a hearing loss in one ear. In all their campaigns, none felt compelled to tell everyone about their personal attributes. There was no “I am your left handed/ club footed/ slightly deaf/ all of the above candidate”. No one cared !. What was important was their policies and general approach to life.

    What a pathetic approach !

    I am sure Margaret, when standing for election, will NOT be presenting herself as “strawberry blonde, slim, 36D cup – vote for me !”, accompanied by revealing swimsuit photographs.

    • margaret says:

      Right handed, slightly knock kneed, aurally perfect – that’s me. Your innate sexism is showing.

      • whyisitso says:

        Tut tut margaret. The politically-correct word is genderism, not sexism. The s word should only be used when genital-activity is being referred to.

        • Don Aitkin says:

          We’ve lost it, whyisitso. I was taught that in high school when learning French, German and Latin: ‘gender’ applies to words, or language construction. ‘Sex’ is about chickens.

          But PC has defeated us. Nobody knows what gender is, anymore. It’s not just PC. ‘Sex’ acquired such a lot of baggage in and after the 1960s that a word was needed that lacked the baggage, when the baggage was not approbate to the context, and ‘gender’ suited that task. It’s how language evolves, I suppose, much as I dislike the neologisms, and the turning of nouns into verbs. We’ll hear a lot of ‘I hope to podium’ in the next few weeks.

          • JimboR says:

            And don’t get me started on the way some people turn verbs into nouns. Most of us still prefer to use the -ing ending for that, but Tony Abbott was very fond of “budget saves”.

      • Look at me ! says:

        Marg, you took the whole thing to heart.

        I am an overweight, bad back, crook knee, Caucasian, still have most of my hair, married, wine drinking (insert here another 33 attributes) male.

        Next time there is an election, I will stand, and all my posters will have me portrayed as above, but no policies mentioned (although “Jobs and Growth” will be mentioned 44 times). Should I mention STRAIGHT in the posters, or perhaps YET TO DECIDE, TRANS, DFBYTS, 34% CAUCASIAN, 26% MONGOLIAN, remaining percentage UNKNOWN, inclusive, exclusive, to cover all bases. I need help with this !

        Yes, I did vote for Bob KATTER. He is a loose cannon, and sometimes careless with matches and fireworks, but his heart is in the right place – North Queensland (you know the place – that piece of Australia north of the Tropic with the pointy bit on top – moving northwards at 56mm per year (pretty soon we will be bumping into PNGs clacker)) – look it up on an atlas – you will find us).

        Don wrote a piece on his recent travels to North Queensland (good to see there was at least one visitor this year so far – we will wait to hear of a second visitor) and mentioned about becoming a separate state. I would like to see North Queensland become a Territory, so we can get the substantial subsidies Territories receive.

        Marg, keep posting. But thick skins are required here.

        And Don, Bob KATTER’s’ mailbox deposit had some trul’y beautiful A’POSTR’OPHE example’s’. I will scan them and send.

      • Look at me ! says:

        Marg, the very reason I mentioned the 36D cup was that I find it very offensive. So much advertising (particularly the web, which is, by and large unregulated) has 36D advertising. I recently received a email from a tyre company with a busty female as the lead image. I do not want, need, or support the use of busty females in any attempt to sell me a set of tyres (or any other product). That company will not get a sale from me. I am sick of it, you are sick of it, and a think the vast majority of people are sick of it.

        I reject your accusation of sexism. I do not practice it, nor approve of it.

        And from your post above “And I say that as an old lady”. What has “old” got to do with anything ? You could be 108 years old (blind, deaf, flabby breasted) for all I care (and I would not want to know).

        I find Dons site one of the cerebral sites on the Australian web, but would happily leave it if personal attributes were mentioned.

        Your posts are the only thing that counts (and I presume Dons approval).

        • margaret says:

          Heheh this site is helping me to become more rhinoceros like Lam! … as well as supplying some brain food. Yeah, no worries, you and me both don’t want to see giant physical attributes on billboards or anywhere else thrust on us (possibly a poor word choice there).
          Also I could very well be that second visitor to FNQ before too long. Maybe I’ll be stopped in Laura and extradited back to Victoria.
          But I do jest. I think we might only get as far as Noosa. No not to do laps of Hastings St. (I’ve never been to Noosa but hear that is THE street). I’d like to see the National Park heathland up there.
          Qld. Beautiful one day …

  • gnome says:

    So you voted for Bob Katter instead. Congratulations.
    I’m sure if he declared that he has a wobbly head, laughs ludicrously at everything he says and gets angry every time he speaks in Parliament you would have been torn asunder deciding who to vote for. Luckily for him, he didn’t tell you about himself, just his policies, and now presumably those policies of his that you voted for will be implemented by a chastened government.
    A vote well placed!

  • David says:

    JimboR

    “Tony Abbott was very fond of “budget saves”’

    Yes but ..’ings would be an extra syllable.

  • Neville says:

    Andrew Bolt interviews a different type of conservative. He’s certainly intelligent and has a ton of guts and there doesn’t seem to be any part of the left wing agenda that he’s afraid to challenge.

    http://www.skynews.com.au/video/program/program_featured/2016/07/11/why-gays-are–flocking-to-trump-.html

    • Brian Austen says:

      I believe Andrew has a brother who was/is on the other side of the fence and once worked for Senator Sanders where he had just as much, zeal and tenacity.

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